Newly installed air conditioners unable to be used across Queensland schools as heatwave takes hold


Queensland students and staff face a sweltering final few days of the school year with newly installed air-conditioning units unusable because school electricity networks cannot cope.

It comes in the midst of a lengthy heatwave being felt across the country.

The State Government’s $477 million program to install air-conditioners in all state schools by June 2022 received much fanfare when it was announced in back in February.

While air-conditioning units have been installed in a number of schools, many do not have the network capacity to run the units.

Maree, a primary school teacher on Brisbane’s northside, said her classroom’s air-conditioning units were installed a week before the October election.

The ceiling fans were ripped out to make way for the units that cannot be turned on.

Claire from the Sunshine Coast said her state high school had almost completed the installation of the units, but they also could not be used as she was under the impression the school would have to foot the bill for the system upgrade.

“We’ve been told we can’t turn them on until there is an update to the school’s electrical system and this has not been funded, only the installation of the units,” Claire said.

The majority of school’s electrical upgrades will be completed over the Christmas holidays, according to Education Minister Grace Grace.(ABC Riverland: Catherine Heuzenroeder)

Susan from Beaudesert had a similar story and said her children’s school had units installed in January but were unable to use them as the school needed an electrical upgrade.

Veronika in Moorooka said her husband was a teacher’s aide and said the school had no idea when they would be able to use the air-conditioning units.

“He comes home drenched, exhausted. It’s hot,” Veronika said.

“It’s not good for the kids either.”

Another listener called it a political stunt, with air-conditioning installation being rolled out before the October election.

“My kids are at Junction Park State School, it’s the same story,” that listener said.

Jack McGuire, general secretary of the Teachers’ Professional Association of Queensland, said the capability of each school’s network was “obviously not” anticipated when the units were rolled out into schools.

“How did the sparky when he installed them, knowing that there wasn’t enough power at the time, check off on that being installed?” Mr McGuire said.

“It then also begs the question if this was being hurried out for some political quota.”

Education Minister promises a cooler start to 2021

Minister for Education Grace Grace has promised that the majority of electrical upgrades will be completed over the Christmas break and the department would fund it.

This may come as news to some, with ABC Radio Brisbane hearing from a number of teachers and parents who were under the impression their schools may have to foot the bill.

“We are getting on with the job of installing air-conditioning in every classroom, library and staff room in every school across the state by June 2022,” Ms Grace said.

“Part of that process in some schools is upgrading the electrical supply so that recently installed units are safe to use.

“This is a normal part of the installation process to ensure that safety is maintained in the school community at all times.

“All costs associated with any electrical upgrade will be funded by the Department of Education.”



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Jack de Belin rape trial jury unable to reach verdict



The jury in the rape trial of Jack de Belin and Callan Sinclair has told the court it has been unable to reach a verdict.

The NRL star and his co-accused pleaded not guilty to raping a 19-year-old woman in a Wollongong apartment in 2018.

The jury returned to the court after retiring on Thursday afternoon.

It did not sit on Friday and only reconvened at 9:30am today.

In a note to Judge Andrew Haesler, the jury said despite careful consideration “we have unable to reach a unanimous verdict”.

Judge Haesler has urged the jury to go back over all the case and “give renewed, but calm and rational attention to the evidence.”

More to come.



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TAB system crashes on final day of spring carnival leaving punters unable to bet


“The VRC in liaison with the Racing Victoria stewards has decided to push back race five and all subsequent races by one race due to the current TAB outage,” the VRC tweeted.

Victoria’s country meeting at Geelong was also pushed back by one race to give the TAB more time to fix the system issue, which they described as a “major technical issue”.

A screenshot of the TAB website on Saturday.

The source of the system outage was a power surge, which caused multiple server failures.

“The issue is currently understood to have been caused by a major power disruption at one of the external data centres which houses Tabcorp’s servers,” Tabcorp said in a statement.

Chief executive David Attenborough apologised as Tabcorp pledged to deploy our resources to restore the full service.

“Tabcorp wishes to apologise to our customers, the racing industry, venues and other partners for the issues being experienced in the delivery of our products and services today,” said David Attenborough.

“We appreciate the importance of today’s race meetings, especially at Flemington and Rosehill Gardens, and are disappointed that we have been unable to give customers the experience the day deserves.

“We would like to acknowledge the support of our racing industry partners for continuing to help us to manage through the day, including those racing bodies who have been able to push back their race start times.”

Earlier a TAB spokesman said. “There is no evidence or suggestion of our system being hacked.”

After two races, the Morphettville was postponed because of the lack of TAB betting, the remainder of the card moved to Monday.

Punters at Rosehill were still able to bet because the on-course system operates independently of the rest of the TAB system.

The beneficiaries of the TAB problems would be other corporate bookmakers, who were still able to take bets. However, the on-line bookmakers were experiencing some delays in paying winning bets because race results are linked back to the TAB.

More to come

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Russian COVID hospitals unable to handle too many dead bodies


Employees of one of the coronavirus hospitals in Barnaul are forced to store the bodies of deceased patients in the basement of the hospital due to the shortage of pathologists. To make matters worse, many relatives refuse to pick up the bodies of their relatives, who died of COVID-19.

“The significantly increased number of deaths per day, the need for anatomical examination in 100% of cases and the shortage of pathologists have significantly increased the workload for each doctor and caused the order of priorities to emerge as far as autopsies are concerned,” a message posted on the website of the regional government said.

In addition, the relatives of the deceased refuse to pick up their bodies on time either due to the closure of ritual halls or the need to observe quarantine after a contact with the infected individual.

A room for temporary storage of bodies was arranged in the basement of City Hospital N12, other, previously unused morgues were reequipped as well.

A blood-chilling video was earlier uploaded on YouTube, showing multiple black body bags lying on the floor and on the gurneys of the hospital. The author of the video claimed that those body bags wee hiding corpses of people, who died of COVID-19.

According to operational headquarters, as of October 22, the Altai region of region has 17,306 positive cases, with 203 of them registered in the last 24 hours. As many as 291 people died in the region during the time of the pandemic.

13 COVID patients die of oxygen shortage while on ventilators

Meanwhile, Roszdravnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision in Healthcare) in the Rostov region began launched an investigation in to reports about the death of 13 patients, who died due to the lack of oxygen while being connected to ventilators.

Local media reported that several COVID-positive patients, who were undergoing medical treatment at Hospital No. 20 of the city of Rostov-on-Don suffocated due to a long pause in the supply of medical oxygen. Two doctors working at the hospital confirmed the information.

A source at the Halth Ministry said that five people died in intensive care, several others died in hospital wards. According to doctors, due to the lack of oxygen, they had to continuously reduce its concentration in the mixture and temporarily disconnect some patients from ventilators in order to help more severe patients.

On October 12, as many as 13 patients died at Hospital No. 20, but officials with the Rostov-on-Don health department noted that the cause of their death was yet to be established. Sergei Tyurin, the head of the regional press center for monitoring the coronavirus crisis, said that the information about the death of COVID-19 patients due to the lack of oxygen was not true to fact.



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New York’s commercial tenants won’t face eviction until 2021 if they are unable to pay their rent


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended a moratorium protecting commercial tenants from eviction amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses struggling due to lockdowns and social distancing rules can stay in their buildings until at least the end of this year, Cuomo announced Tuesday as a month-long extension of the original order – which expired September 20 – was due to run out.

It gives renters and mortgagors more time to catch up on payments or to renegotiate their lease terms to avoid foreclosure in the future.

Now, like a moratorium for residential tenants, landlords will not be able to kick out those who are unable to pay rent due to issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak until at least January 1, 2021.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended a moratorium protecting commercial tenants from eviction. He announced the news Tuesday as the last extension was due to expire

It gives renters and mortgagors more time to catch up on payments or to renegotiate their lease terms to avoid foreclosure in the future. A woman reads a sign at a closed store in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn, New York on October 9

It gives renters and mortgagors more time to catch up on payments or to renegotiate their lease terms to avoid foreclosure in the future. A woman reads a sign at a closed store in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn, New York on October 9

Last month, Cuomo granted residential tenants the same relief until next year. Demonstrators are pictured October 1 in New York City

Last month, Cuomo granted residential tenants the same relief until next year. Demonstrators are pictured October 1 in New York City

‘The health and economic impacts of this pandemic have been devastating, and we are continuing to do everything we can to support people who are suffering,’ Cuomo said Tuesday.

‘We are going to extend the commercial eviction and foreclosure moratorium through January 1st. That will now align with our residential eviction moratorium so they are both extended to the same date.’

Cuomo granted residential tenants more relief on September 28 to protect people suffering financial hardship during the public health emergency.

The governor announced protections for residential and commercial tenants on March 20, with an executive order against eviction and foreclosure lasting 90 days.

On June 30 signed the Tenant Safe Harbor Act which became effective immediately.

The protections come alongside legislation providing financial assistance to both renters and landlords. However it may not be much help to commercial landlords who remain on pressure as the state relies on businesses to help boost the economy.

In May, Vornado said 80 percent of its retail tenants failed to pay rent in April and May as well as 40 percent of its office tenants. Vornado collected 53 percent of its retail rent but did not give numbers for office rents.

SL Green, another commercial giant, said it collected more than 90 percent but only around 65 percent of retail rent in May. 

Empire Realty Trust collected 73 percent of its rent owed from office tenants in April. The company didn’t specify whether it meant some companies didn’t pay any rent at all or if its tenants only paid partially.

The company boosted its income to 93 percent by using some security deposits to make up the income. Cuomo has said that residential tenants can dip into deposits now and that over time the tenant should contribute more to pay it back.

The expansion of the residential moratorium include cases where a judgment or warrant of eviction was granted prior to March 7, 2020. Demonstrators are shown during a rent strike protest on October 1

The expansion of the residential moratorium include cases where a judgment or warrant of eviction was granted prior to March 7, 2020. Demonstrators are shown during a rent strike protest on October 1

Protesters created Abolition Living Room demanding cancel rent in front of 633 3rd Avenue, Manhattan where the NYC office of the Governor is located

Protesters created Abolition Living Room demanding cancel rent in front of 633 3rd Avenue, Manhattan where the NYC office of the Governor is located

Cuomo’s Executive Order for residential tenants from last month extends the protections of the Tenant Safe Harbor Act to eviction warrants that existed prior to the start of the pandemic.

‘Chapter 127 of the laws of 2020 is modified to the extent necessary to prevent, for any residential tenant suffering financial hardship during the COVID-19 state disaster emergency declared by Executive Order 202, the execution or enforcement of such judgment or warrant,’ the executive order reads.

It adds: ‘Including those cases where a judgment or warrant of eviction for a residential property was granted prior to March 7, 2020, through January 1, 2021.’ 

In August dozens of people marched through Brooklyn to protest the impending expiration of a previous order as 14,000 families risked being homeless, according to Legal Aid Society.

At the time he said he will keep extending it for as long as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the livelihoods of New Yorkers.

‘Until when? Until I say COVID is over,’ he said.

The moratorium puts these proceedings on hold but, once expired, these can be carried out.

Even tenants protected by the Tenant Safe Harbor Act could have been taken to court by their landlords to recover missed rent payments however the executive order could help the tenant fight the case.



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Delhi’s iconic Indian Coffee House battles massive slump in business, unable to pay salaries for months


Sales in most branches of Indian Coffee House down by up to 60%; Delhi Society asks NDMC to waive rent, says govt. should step in to save chain

Wearing a white turban and uniform, 48-year-old Ranveer Singh holds a round steel tray full of Indian Coffee House signature crockery.

It is 2 p.m. in Connaught Place. A major part of the famous restaurant remains locked and only four tables have customers.

“Business is badly hit because of which we have not received salaries since March. I have not been able to pay rent for the last three months and have taken out ₹50,000 in loan since the lockdown. I will have to take more this month,” Mr. Singh told The Hindu.

Due to COVID-19 and staggered lifting of curbs, business at the iconic Indian Coffee House in different cities have been hit badly and salaries of employees of at least eight branches in five cities of north India under The Indian Coffee House Workers’ Co-operative Society Ltd., Delhi, (Delhi Society) have not been paid for the past five months.

Like Mr. Singh, many workers said they have borrowed or taken money from their provident fund to meet their expenses.

The deputy general manager (DGM) of Delhi Society said sales of all their eight branches were down by about 60% and Delhi by 70%.

Across the country

“The situation is same in other States as well. We have kept the salary of five months pending and whenever funds are available, we will pay the employees. I talk to Indian Coffee House societies in Kerala and Madhya Pradesh and they are also going through a tough time. The government should help us,” said DGM Devender Negi.

The Delhi Society, founded on October 27, 1957, has written to the New Delhi Municipal Council to waive the rent of ₹1.19 lakh per month for the lockdown period of their Connaught Place branch. However, the NDMC has not agreed to this, said the Society.

Mr. Singh, who has been working at the ICH for the past 22 years, said this is the first time that they were not getting salaries. “I have two children — one in Class 10 and another in Class 6 — and I am not even in a position to pay their school fees, which will be around ₹10,000 for three months. Almost everyone else is in a similar position,” he said.

Bharat Joshi, 34, who has been working at the ICH for the 14 years, said he has exhausted his savings. “I get ration from the government, but there are other expenses also. How will we meet them?” he asked.

President of the Delhi Society, Dinesh Singh Gusain, said: “I have taken ₹50,000 from my PF fund as I was not getting my salary. Now, I will have to take money again from my PF.”

Flipping through the pages of the account’s book of the ICH in Connaught Place, the branch manager, Bhuvanesh Kumar, said: “Today, till 2 p.m., we have only had a business of around ₹1,000. Before the pandemic, we used to have a sale of around ₹25,000-₹30,000/day. We are giving advance salary to many workers. But the business is too low even for it.”

After reopening on June 8, there was a revenue of ₹33,836 in June, ₹53,956 in July and about ₹80,000 in August, the records showed.

“Earlier, we used to have a business of around ₹9 lakh-12 lakh a month. The government should help us. The business is less than even the rent,” he added.

A letter written to the NDMC by the Society on August 9 read, “During the lockdown period due to COVID-19, the Indian Coffee House was totally closed from 22/03/2020 to 08/06/2020 and during this period the NDMC has not given any permission to enter the premises of the building. The Society shall be highly thankful to you, if on humanitarian grounds you will not demand the licence fee for the period.”

An NDMC official said that they do not have any provision to waive rent.

‘Will meet CM’

“We are planning to meet Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and request him to help,” Mr. Kumar said.

Almost all employees, including the manager and the DGM said that the government should help, as ICH is no ordinary restaurant chain. “Many political leaders used to come to ICH. In the 80s, when I was a waiter, I had served [L.K.] Advani ji when he visited here,” Mr. Kumar said.

At the society’s Delhi office in Kamala Nagar, the office-bearers were enthusiastic as they flipped through photos of other political leaders who had come to the restaurant.

One of the photos was a black and white photo of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi outside an Indian Coffee House van, which used to sell food on the roadside in Delhi. “We used to sent food parcels to Indira Gandhi’s home. Even Modi ji visited the coffee house in Shimla two years back. This is not any other restaurant chain,” Mr. Negi said.

“In Shimla, relished coffee at the Indian Coffee House and reminisced old days. The coffee tastes as good as it did two decades ago, when I would frequent Himachal for party work,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted in December 2017 with two photos of him outside the ICH in Shimla.

After opening the first branch in 1957, the ICH, which is run by a cooperative of workers, opened multiple branches in the city, but currently has only one branch in the city, which was opened in 1969.

Meanwhile, at the branch in Mohan Singh Place in Connaught Place, Mr. Singh and others pray that more customers will start coming soon. “When customers come, then only we get our salary. We work like that,” they said.



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Reckoning delayed. Russian investigators have been unable to move forward with their key case against ex-Governor Furgal because of a 16-year-old police report




Federal officials in Russia have been unable to launch a criminal investigation against Sergey Furgal regarding the key offense in their case against the former Khabarovsk governor: the murder of businessman Evgeny Zorya in 2004. According to the newspaper Kommersant, the Investigative Committee has hit a snag because a detective in the Khabarovsk Prosecutor’s Office issued an order in October 2004 terminating all prosecution of Furgal in Zorya’s killing, citing a lack of evidence that he was involved. (Kommersant has not named the detective who filed this decision.)



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South Africa unable to tour England in September over travel restrictions


England lost to South Africa in their opening group match of the T20 World Cup in February

South Africa women will not tour England next month because of coronavirus travel restrictions.

The Proteas had been set to play two Twenty20s and four one-day internationals in England in September.

A tri-series had also been proposed for the summer but India withdrew in July because of similar restrictions.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) says it is determined to play some women’s cricket this year and is in talks with several boards.

West Indies are understood to be keen to replace South Africa.

“Women’s and girls’ cricket is a huge part of the ECB strategy and despite the devastating impact of Covid-19, this ambition has not waned,” said Clare Connor, managing director of women’s cricket.

“We continue to explore all options to see England Women play competitively this summer.”

England’s players have been in a bio-secure training bubble in Derby, where the matches were set to be played.

They have not played any international cricket since the T20 World Cup in Australia in March.

The 50-over World Cup – in which England are defending champions – was set to be held in February in New Zealand, but has since been postponed until 2022.

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Second coronavirus stimulus: Stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment delayed further with Democrats and Republicans unable to compromise


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Coronavirus restrictions leave Melbourne’s small businesses unable to pay rent, again


In March, as the coronavirus pandemic was taking hold, Fang Lu knew there was no way she’d be able to pay the month’s rent on her small beauty salon and café in Balwyn.

Her takings had shrivelled to almost nothing — forcing her to shut her doors, or open at a loss.

But she says her landlord wasn’t interested.

Instead, she was sent a breach notice — with a rent increase, a higher security bond, and penalties for late payment.

Months later, she said her landlord was still pushing her for money, as they demanded to know why she had not opened her doors, and stated she had “failed to mitigate her losses”.

“I’m a single mum with three kids. I have nothing left to put into the business. I’ve told the landlord all this, and still they couldn’t show any sympathy.”

Fang Lu stands behind t he bench inside her cafe.
Ms Lu said her landlord did not believe that she was unable to meet rent repayments.(ABC News: Simon Winter)

The National Cabinet had struggling small businesses in mind when it introduced the Code of Conduct for Commercial Leases in April.

It requires landlords to consider rent relief in proportion to their tenants’ lost revenue, and to negotiate in good faith. It also prevents landlords from evicting tenants until October.

Ms Lu’s landlord did not respond to questions from the ABC.

But her lawyer, Spiro Politis, told the ABC some landlords are blatantly ignoring the Code, and squeezing small business tenants.

“They just don’t have the resources to be able to pay. So come 30 September, when the moratorium on evictions expires, it’s either going to be a bloodbath, or there’s going to be an outbreak of common sense,” he says.

Big landlords accused of being unsympathetic

A floor at Westfield Doncaster with only a few shoppers in sight.
Some retail tenants at Westfield Doncaster say they haven’t been shown sympathy by their large landlord.(ABC News: Daniel Fermer)

But it’s not just small landlords. Shopkeepers at Westfield in Doncaster say the corporation is playing hard.

Several Westfield traders have confirmed to the ABC they have been given no reduction in rent, despite a huge reduction in foot traffic.

“I feel they’ll only do something when they have to,” said Ray Chan, owner of the Nosh sandwich chain in Canberra and Melbourne, which includes an outlet at Westfield Doncaster.

Mr Chan says while other shopping centres have been understanding during the crisis, and willing to support businesses through it, Westfield is different.

A smiling man in a dimly light corridor at a shopping centre.
Ray Chan believes his landlord is only interested in the corporate bottom line.(ABC News: Daniel Fermer)

“I think for them, it’s about the bottom line, making sure that they appease the shareholders or whatever it may be,'” he says.

“And I think it’s being felt across the whole shopping centre in general.”

‘We wanted empathy and kindness’

Melbourne business owner April Brodie
Salon owner April Brodie had operated her business at Westfield Doncaster for 22 years.(ABC News: Daniel Fermer)

Another affected Westfield tenant is beauty salon owner April Brodie, who said the group’s parent company Scentre Group offered her terms that will drive her into bankruptcy.

“I feel betrayed,” says Ms Brodie, whose beauty salon has been closed since March.

You see a taped A4 paper sheet to a glass window that carries a notice of COVID-19-related closure.
Businesses such as Ms Brodie’s may not be able to survive Melbourne’s second partial lockdown.(ABC News: Daniel Fermer)

After months of trying to get an answer out of the Sydney head office, she finally received Westfield’s offer last week: half her rent from April to June would be waived, with the rest to be paid off beginning in October.

Ms Brodie said there was no negotiation. She alleged Scentre gave her seven days to sign, or that the offer would be withdrawn. She added that even if she agreed to the deal, she would never be able to pay it.

“We didn’t want anything for nothing. We wanted to be able to work with them. We were looking for empathy and kindness, and someone who wanted to invest in us and keep us there.”

The hallway outside Beaute salon in a Melbourne shopping centre.
April Brodie’s business has been at the shopping centre for 22 years and she feels betrayed by her landlord.(ABC News: Daniel Fermer)

Scentre Group said the offer to Ms Brodie was “…an example of the Code of Conduct being followed”.

“We have said right from the start that it will take some time for us to work through these conversations with our retail partners, but we are committed to doing this with the empathy the community expects of us,” John Papagiannis, Scentre’s director of leasing and retail solutions, told the ABC.

He rejected assertions there was no negotiation.

“[We] engaged in direct correspondence after our offer of 6 July … and after being told by our retailer that she was not in a position to sign the documentation given the Melbourne restrictions, we told her to stay safe and we would pick up our discussions with her after the lockdown,” Mr Papagiannis said.

But Ms Brodie has fears that will be too late to save her from bankruptcy.

“I have worked for over 30 years, I’ve put my heart and soul into my business, and I will have nothing,” she said.

“And not only will I have nothing, my team will have nothing. So there will be multiple people that will lose their homes, their cars, and will affect their children’s future.”

Landlords are ‘stonewalling’, says industry body

Mary Aldred chief executive officer of the Australian Franchise Association
Franchise Association CEO Mary Aldred said larger landlords needed to be reasonable during the coronavirus pandemic.(ABC News: Daniel Fermer)

The Franchise Association said it has received numerous complaints of hard line tactics by corporate landlords during the crisis.

“It’s the larger shopping centre, corporate landlords that are providing the most stress and most difficulty for tenants,” Mary Aldred, association CEO, told the ABC.

“They’re asking for years and years’ worth of financial information, or asking them to sign confidentiality agreements to simply negotiate,” she says.

“They need to be reasonable and fair. And if they’re not, then small businesses are just not going to be able to make it through to the other side.”



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